My phone, the love story

It’s difficult to answer the question of what my relationship with my phone is, as I am slightly embarrassed about my clinging dependency. Last Thursday I unexpectedly had to fly out to Chicago for a family emergency. My flight was at 7:12am, meaning I should arrive at the airport, at 6:15-6:30. I woke up a bit later than I had wanted and frantically tried to get my things together. I don’t usually use Uber to get to the airport, but I felt desperate. So, I actually downloaded the Uber app and requested a ride. With my battery at 5%, it was basically all it could handle before it shut off. And of course, my phone charger was nowhere to be seen, as we were experiencing a drought of phone charger between the 4 people staying at my apartment over the break. I thought about it hard for about 45 seconds, whether or not to reschedule my flight. I can’t fly to Chicago without a phone, I thought. How will I let my family know I’m leaving? How will anyone know that I landed? How will I entertain myself? How will I know that the Uber is not ripping me off and taking the long way to JFK?

I spent $75 to reschedule my flight. This secret stays here, on my ITP blog.

Why is this anecdote relevant to the relationship with my phone? I think it shows that I put everything else second when it comes to my phone, apparently even finances as a broke graduate student.

The sad part is that it’s not my phone that I’m attached to, well it is in the way that you like to have things that are yours. But if someone were to give me a brand new phone tomorrow, without any of my contacts, calendar events, apps, I wouldn’t even mind. In fact, I frequently add and delete the same apps, i.e. the Uber app–I already had an Uber account before the flying fiasco; I just often delete it, and re-install it when I desperately need it. The truth is, I have too many pictures. They’re like the cancer of my emails. I act like if I delete them I will actually feel a void in my life, despite rarely looking back at them.

I am not even one to have interesting and useful apps on my phone. I would bet that 90% of my phone usage is flipping back and forth from Facebook to the incredible amount of emails I have accumulated. This is very contradictory to some of the goals I have in educational technology, in exploring ways to integrate mobile devices during in-class instruction. If we are going to use them, can we find ways to help improve our lives. There are people that do use their phones in useful ways, but how can we make that true for the majority of people?

In this course, I’d like to explore how we can translate the idea of our phones being always on and connected to how we can we become always on and connected through our phones. Instead of using our phone as a blanket to hide behind hide direct, physical interaction, how can we take the advice of a phone and be present and aware in ourselves?